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Django, Prepare a Coffin (1968)
15th Jan 13
Django saves the lives of wrongly condemned criminals to help avenge the death of his wife at the hands of a corrupt politician.
Apparently, Django, Prepare a Coffin is listed at #19 on Quentin Tarantino’s big list of favourite Spaghetti Westerns. If that’s the kind of criteria you’re using to prioritise your imminent viewing schedule, then this Django sequel will probably end up towards the bottom of the pile. And quite rightly so, but I guess this all depends on how much you like your Spaghetti Westerns. Personally, I have to be really in the mood for them, especially when I feel pretty confident that I've already seen all the truly great Westerns, be they pasta-based or otherwise.
Django, Prepare a Coffin sees tough slinger of pistol finery Django (Terence Hill) follow the well trodden path of revenge in an intriguing plotline that alone makes this one worth a look. He plays a hangman – a cold figure with a dark past, who instead of hanging wrongly convicted criminals, attaches a vest under their clothes, saving their neck at the gallows. After a few hours, along rides Django, who cuts them down and sends to a remote location to join all the other men he has saved from the noose. His mission: to avenge the death of his wife at the hands of nasty local politician, David Barry (Horst Frank) and his ruthless henchman, Lucas (the one and only George Eastman). However it soon transpires that these second chancers aren’t going to make things easy for Django; where there’s gold, there is greed.
If you’re expecting a western with the scope and grace of Sergios Leone or Corbucci (who helmed the original Django), you will no doubt feel underwhelmed by this somewhat more pedestrian entry. That said, Ferdinando Baldi’s film has certain attributes which genre aficionados will no doubt appreciate. The action is competently executed and at times quite ruthless (the Arrow DVD is uncut), the latter being an element one should expect when George Eastman is anywhere to be seen! The principle cast players also deserve mention; you may know leading man Terence Hill from They Call Me Trinity or from the plethora of Italian comedies where he engaged in various hijinks with human bear Bud Spencer. But here, he plays it straight as a speeding bullet, his icy blue eyes making him look every part the vengeful Django. Jose Torres as the Judas-like Garcia is also a strong addition to the cast, while the aforementioned George Eastman is on fine form as the slick, intense henchman, Lucas.
I love the fact that soundtrack composer Gianfranco Reverberi has the musical term “reverb” housed in his name. This score is quintessential Spag Western stuff, and chances are you’ve heard the beautiful central piece already, used so effectively for Gnarles Barkley’s ‘Crazy’. The opening title sequence features a great song, too, accompanied by the gaudy, characteristic animated visuals these movies are known for.
It’s also worth pointing out that this is an official installment in the Django series, unlike Django: If you live, Shoot! (which is still worth a look!). Plenty to recommend Django, Prepare a Coffin, then. It’s nowhere near as visually arresting as so many others of its ilk, but nevertheless a fine addition to any healthy Spaghetti Western collection.